There’s part of me that wants to be more open about my illness. I’d love to be blasé about it and just be able to say “I have depression” in a matter-of-fact way, the same way I might say “I am a teacher” or “I like to travel”, but the truth is I am yet to shake off the shame of it all. The sense of being a failure for being struck down time and again by my mental, uncooperative brain is unrelenting and one I can’t seem to jettison. While I impart no shame on others who suffer (not even secretly), in the war for control of my brain, I’ve lost this personal battle. I am and continued to feel ashamed and embarrassed.
So today, when someone at work asked why I was only working part time, I laughed and tried to get out of any kind of explanation by simply stating, truthfully, that I asked to be part-time. When that wasn’t enough, I mumbled something about needing time to relax and laughed again. The subject was dropped.
There was a rushed-passed thought of owning up, of simply stating the facts: that I’ve been ill, that I’ve been depressed and that it tires me out. I wouldn’t have gone any further into details – the exhaustion of keeping up a pretence, of keeping on top of planning and teaching and maintaining my “normal person” façade; the apathy that seeps into everything and makes even the simplicity of walking and talking hard; the fear of inappropriate tears or impolite outbursts; the stress of timetables and deadlines… No one needs all that information. But the basics could have been uttered with minimal fuss if only I could be brave enough, if only I could lose the shame.
I need to figure out where the shame comes from and why it lingers. Maybe if I can settle on a reason (or reasons) I can begin to tackle them and be more honest.
Although there is part of me that thinks surely no one else is interested.